It’s common to think of intelligence as something that you’re simply born with. Some people, after all, make being smart look effortless.
Intelligence isn’t a set trait, though. It’s a changeable, flexible ability to learn and stimulate your brain that can improve over time. The key is to practice lifestyle habits that support and protect your brain.
Practicing certain lifestyle habits may help improve your overall intelligence, which includes two types:
- Crystallized intelligence. This refers to your vocabulary, knowledge, and skills. Crystallized intelligence typically increases as you get older.
- Fluid intelligence. Also known as fluid reasoning, fluid intelligence is your ability to reason and think abstractly.
Read on to learn what science has to say about the different ways you may be able to boost both your crystallized and fluid intelligence.
Staying physically active is one of the best ways to improve brain functioning.
According to a
To enjoy the cognitive benefits of exercise, it’s important to do it regularly. The good news is that you don’t have to exercise vigorously to reap the benefits.
Beginner-friendly exercise ideas include:
Sleep is also essential for supporting optimal cognitive function. When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories you created throughout the day. It also enhances your brain’s ability to learn new information when you wake up.
Another way to become smarter is to practice meditation.
In an older 2010 study, meditation was associated with better executive functioning and working memory. These effects were observed after just four days of meditation.
The researchers speculated that these cognitive effects were due to the emotional benefits of meditation.
There are many ways to meditate. You can:
- use meditation apps
- listen to guided meditation videos
- attend a meditation class
Adenosine is a brain chemical that stops the release of stimulatory substances in your brain. However, the caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine, which allows these substances to give you a boost of energy. This could help promote learning and mental performance.
It’s best to consume coffee in moderation, though. Drinking too much caffeine can increase anxiety and make you jittery.
Sipping on green tea can also support your brain function. Some of these effects are due to the caffeine in green tea, which is present in small amounts. Green tea is also rich in a chemical called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
According to a
Another way to boost your brain health is to eat foods with nutrients that support brain function. This includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, and vitamin K.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Flavonoids are beneficial plant compounds with neuroprotective benefits.
According to a
Rich sources of flavonoids include:
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Playing an instrument is a fun and creative way to boost your intelligence. It involves skills like:
- auditory perception
- physical coordination
- pattern recognition
This challenges your sensory and cognitive abilities, according to a
If you’re an experienced musician, challenge yourself by learning new songs or genres. If you don’t know how to play an instrument, remember that it’s never too late to start. You can find plenty of free how-to videos online to get you started.
Research shows that reading may also help boost your intelligence.
According to a 2015 review, reading stimulates every part of your brain, along with the neural connections between them.
That’s because it requires multiple cognitive functions, including:
- working memory
- long-term storage memory
- abstract reasoning
- visual processing of letters
If you’d like to increase intelligence, aim to be a student for life. A longer duration of education is linked to higher intelligence, according to a
Continuing your education doesn’t mean you need to get a degree. You can:
- listen to podcasts
- watch TED talks
- attend lectures or workshops
- pick up a new hobby
- learn a new language
- read books on a new subject
If you find it difficult to meet new people or create relationships, you may want to consider the following:
- volunteer in your community
- join a club, gym, or sports team
- take a class
- join a book club
- reconnect with old friends
Remember, intelligence isn’t about knowing more than other people. It’s about stimulating your brain, being able to solve problems, and learning new things.
By staying curious and following the tips outlined above, you may be able to boost your brain health and enhance your intelligence over time.